Who’s being naive, Kay?

Michael Corleone: My father is no different than any powerful
man, any man with power, like a president or senator.

Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.

Michael Corleone: Who’s being naive, Kay?

Are they capable of knowing (who did it) and not telling us just to win elections? asked the widow of a man killed in the Madrid bombings. Sadly, Yes! Within hours of the attack, the incumbent right wing Spanish government did a little fearmongering about Basque separatists before grudgingly revealing — at the eleventh hour — that Muslim extremist groups might be responsible. (90% of Spain’s population protested JM Aznar’s support of Bush’s excellent Iraq adventure, in part because it would draw foreign terrorists to Spain.)

But Spaniards can at least be grateful for a varied and aggressive press asking the same question even amid the understandable shock of covering the tragedy. Do we have the same benefit of a tenacious Fourth Estate watchdogging our right to an accountable government? Sadly, No!

In order to hoodwink Congress and the public into believing his personal crusade to disarm Iraq of dozens of weapons of mass destruction program related activities — later further downgraded to thoughts of — was vital to the War on Terra and Stuff, Bush claimed that catching Osama wasn’t important. After all, he’s just one guy! The media went along with the new Rove product (not bothering to ask whether Saddam wasn’t just one guy too.)

The Fourth Estate continues to play its comfy self-imposed role as a subsidiary of BushCo’s official public relations department by largely allowing the administration to use the Madrid tragedy for the Spring PR offensive announced last year: the return of the George and Osama show, retooled during a long hiatus. Forget Iraq’s WMDs, really … please. The real real action is back, and better than ever, like The Sopranos coming back after a long hiatus with the enthralling old Uncle June storylines waking up from coma.

While the Bush brigade repeat thoroughly repudiated Saddam/Osama/Terra policies to bobbleheaded TV pundits, Hans Blix has been reiterating what he and most of the world knew before the Iraq invasion:

“It [the invasion] was a reaction to 9/11 that we have [sic] to strike some theoretical, hypothetical links between Saddam Hussein and the terrorists. That was wrong. There wasn’t anything.” … And he disagreed that the war had made the world a safer place. …

“The moral of this story was clearly a loss of credibility for the leaders of this war and that they didn’t think the council mattered, that was a mistake,” Blix said.

… In a meeting with Mr. Cheney in October 2002, Blix said he was told the United States ‘was ready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament,’ unless Blix’s teams were able to find weapons the White House insisted were in Iraq. …

He blamed an over-reliance on defectors and a refusal on the part of the White House to consider the possibility that the intelligence was wrong.

Is it surprising that the media is again letting Bush twist Madrid, Osama and WMDs into his campaign needs of the moment, like a sitcom husband juggling all his poker-night excuses to get past the ball-and-chain’s nosy relatives? Sadly, No!

The new Spring offensive is getting exactly the treatment given the phony crusade in Iraq, illustrated in new study called Media Coverage of Weapons of Mass Destruction (pdf format) by Susan Moeler, covered in this wire story:

Many stories stenographically reported the incumbent administration’s perspectives on WMD, giving too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats and policy options.

The other three main conclusions of the study conducted by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and the University of Maryland:

  • too few stories offered alternative perspectives to the official line on WMD surrounding the Iraq conflict
  • most journalists accepted the Bush administration linking the war on terror inextricably to the issue of WMD; and
  • most media outlets represented WMD as a monolithic menace without distinguishing between types of weapons and between possible weapons programs and the existence of actual weapons.

The American political system is in the early stages of contending with an unwelcome but ultimately unavoidable problem. The United States initiated war against Iraq on the basis of an inaccurate representation of the scope and immediacy of the threat posed, and it did so without international authority. That has prejudiced the legitimacy of the occupation, thereby undermining the single most important ingredient of successful reconstruction. … the American media did not play the role of checking and balancing the exercise of power that the standard theory of democracy requires.

The complete study, also available in summary form, is available at the CISSM web site.

So for now, forget truly alarming security issues like whether the Bush administration put a nation at longterm risk by ignoring CIA intelligence and worldwide allies for pet corporate and ideological campaigns. The media (and at some point, the public) will be fed any relevant news in press releases next year from the Preznit’s hand-picked independent WMD commission stacked with rabidly partisan GOP crotch-sniffers from the Clinton inquisitions. (The inclusion of John McCain as the token maverick on the Bush-friendly commission doesn’t inspire confidence, but his request for subpoena powers does make me hope I’m wrong in this respect.)

There’s not even perfunctory bleating about the commission’s lax schedule, based on Bush’s “concern” that a $200 billion war over non-existent WMDs might be “politicized” during his campaign — code for why won’t the other guys just shaddap and go away already? (BushCo gets the pass owing to a new rule in democracies that an administration doesn’t have to account for their wars during the last 25% of its term if the campaign theme is how great the Preznit is at war. Plus, the other guy is practically a war fag who also made Tom DeLay cry by calling the crooked liars, um, crooked liars.)

Too bad the big girls’ blouses asking us to trust them with national security are ignoring the pleas of BushCo’s own hand-picked WMD sniffer David Kay. In a stunning turnaround, he departed from earlier statements that he personally didn’t believe the Preznit lied and asked the Misleader to “come clean about WMDs.” This is pretty remarkable, considering Kay was the go-to guy for smearing the UN inspectors (and later the CIA) as naive for disagreeing with the Presidential Gut and believing Saddam’s claims that Iraq had no WMDs.

Mr Kay … called for the president to go further. “It’s about confronting and coming clean with the American people. He should say we were mistaken and I am determined to find out why,” he said. A White House official said it was “too early to draw conclusions” …

Now who’s being naive, Kay?


Comments: 1

Miss Authoritiva

“[The media gave] too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats and policy options.”

It is well known that critical examination only deepens facial wrinkles and produces under-eye puffiness, which increases job insecurity. Plus it takes up way too much time. If it has to be done at all, let the book-writing geeks do it 2 or 3 years after the fact. And then maybe we’ll do an on-air interview, as long as we don’t actually have to read the books.


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